The Chicago group Dolly Varden produces rootsy, atmospheric tunes laced with rock, country, and soul influences. The husband and wife songwriting team of Diane Christiansen and Stephen Dawson first came to prominence in cow-punkers Stump the Host. The two founded Dolly Varden in 1995, recording their debut album, Mouthful of Lies, in Christiansen's converted art studio and releasing it on their own Mid-Fi label. After building up an avid following in Chicago and the Midwest, the group signed with New York indie label Evil Teen for 1998's sophomore effort, The Thrill of Gravity. The album, recorded once again in the home studio, earned rave reviews and garnered national attention.
Dolly Varden's third album, 2000's The Dumbest Magnets (Evil Teen Records), was produced by Brad Jones (Steve Forbert, Marshall Crenshaw) at his live-in studio in Nashville. (The Dumbest Magnets was distributed in Europe on Flying Sparks Records.) For Forgiven Now, released in March of 2002, the group once again recorded with Brad Jones. The effort featured a guest appearance by legendary pedal steel player Al Perkins (Gram Parsons, the Rolling Stones) on "The Lotus Hour" and "There's a Magic." Forgiven Now was released through a partnership with Undertow, an independent music collective run by Dolly Varden's longtime manager, Bob Andrews. Dolly Varden's well-crafted albums have garnered enthusiastic accolades from such vanguard publications of alt-country as the Austin Chronicle and No Depression. ~ Erik Hage